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Missing 8-year-old boy found safe in Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains

Nante Niemi photo
Nante Niemi, 8, is about 4 feet, 2 inches tall and 70-80 lbs. The Wisconsin boy had separated from his family in the vast state park for two full days. (Michigan State Police posted photo to Twitter)
  • Nante Niemi, 8, of Wisconsin was found Monday by a volunteer in the Porcupine Mountains in the western U.P. 
  • He had been missing since Saturday afternoon when he was separated from the family campsite 
  • Police report he was found 2 miles away hiding near a log, seemed in good shape and was reunited with family

A search volunteer found an 8-year old boy Monday who had been missing since Saturday afternoon in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the western Upper Peninsula. 

Nante Niemi, of Wisconsin, was found near a log about two miles from his family’s campsite, the Michigan State police confirmed on a social media post. Police said he had been under or near the log the entire time. 

He was reported to be in good health and had been reunited with his family.

Jessica Buerger, the mother of Nante, told WDIO-TV  Sunday he went missing the day before around 1 p.m. while the family was on its annual camping trip. 


According to MSP, Niemi was gathering firewood for their campsite on Saturday when he was separated.  

More than 150 search and rescue personnel, including nine K-9s searched for the boy in the vast park, according to the agency. Teams were searching a 40 square mile radius on foot, and in the air and water. 

The family went camping on the big and little carp area on the Pinkerton Trail,  which is the shortest trail to nearby cabins and campsites. The 2.6 mile trail is primarily for hiking, running and cross-country skiing.

The terrain is hilly with a lot of standing water and several roads remained  obstructed because of the snow depth, according to the MSP. 

After COVID-19, many state parks in Michigan saw a surge in visitors looking to enjoy outdoor recreation after months of being confined to their homes by emergency state-at-home orders. With more park visitors, emergencies have also increased. 

Ron Olson, chief of the Parks and Recreation Division at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said there has been an increase in search and rescue operations at Porcupine Mountains parks since the pandemic and expects it to decrease eventually.


The park typically encounters an average of 15 search and rescues each year, including people who have been injured and people who have been reported missing. 

At Porcupine Mountains, conservation officers along with trained volunteers assisted the State Police and local law enforcement in rescue efforts. 

“It’s a coordinated effort,” Olson said Monday, before the boy was located. “There’s a whole scheme and system as to how they (search for people). It’s not just random.”

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